Indiana University has a long history of providing preparation for entry into social work practice. Courses in this area were offered in 1911 through the Department of Economics and Sociology. Between 1911 and 1944, various administrative and curricular changes were put into effect, and degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels were offered.  In 1944, the Indiana University Division of Social Service was established by action of the Trustees of Indiana University.  The organizational status was changed in 1966 when the Graduate School of Social Service was created.  In 1973, the name was changed to School of Social Service in recognition of the extent and professional nature of the school’s graduate and undergraduate offerings. It became the School of Social Work in 1977 to reflect a clearer identification with the profession.

The School offers the following social work degrees: baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. The Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) Program prepares students for generalist social work practice; the Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) Program prepares graduate students for advanced social work practice in an area of specialization; and the Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program prepares professional social workers for leadership roles in research, education, and policy development.

Although the degree programs vary in their emphases and levels of complexity, the school’s curricula embody features that are systemic in their educational effects:

  1. The total curriculum articulates the relationship of the undergraduate and graduate levels as components of a continuum in education for providing social services.
  2. The mechanisms of instruction provide opportunities for a range of experiences in substantive areas of interest to students and of importance to society.
  3. The curriculum focuses on problem-solving and strength-enhancing experiences; involving the classroom, learning resources laboratory, and field experience.
  4. The excellent library and technology resources offer opportunities for social work students to become effective users of social science information.
  5. An array of individual and educational procedures optimizes effective training; including rigorous accreditation and innovative teaching/learning approaches.

The School also offers the following Labor Studies degrees: baccalaureate, associate, certificate and minor. The Labor Studies program offers courses on all I.U. campuses and all Labor Studies courses are available online, many in the compressed (8 week) course format.

While the school is headquartered in Indianapolis, it also offers the B.S.W., Labor Studies, and M.S.W. degrees on other IU campuses:  Bloomington, Fort Wayne (IPFW), Gary (IU Northwest), Richmond (IU East), and South Bend.  It also delivers B.S.W. courses on the Columbus and Kokomo campuses.  Reference to some of these offerings will be made in the text that follows.

Graduates of the school move into a broad variety of social service settings.  These include those concerned with aging, family and child welfare, corrections, mental and physical health, communities, political change and analysis, and school adjustment, union leadership, and human resources management.  In anticipation of such professional activities, the school provides field instruction placements throughout the state where students engage in services to individuals, groups, families, and communities or function in planning and management roles.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits both the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work Programs.  The school is a member of the International Association of Schools of Social Work.  The school’s administrators are active participants in the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors and the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education, among others.